Ahhh, time is elusive. The lovely little snapdragons you see here make my heart sing. They popped open in my garden in the earliest days of spring, and they are still in full bloom. These jewels are among the flowers I will soon miss the most. I’ve begun the fall chore of preparing my garden for winter. It’s an emotional task.
I don’t like to see summer end, and I have never, not once, ever in my life looked forward to the cold and barren, bleak, dark days of winter. I long for the light the moment we set our clocks back. The growing season seems to fly by, literally – a flash in the pan. One day I’m dropping seeds into the newly thawed earth, and the next day I’m cutting back, digging up, and mulching the whole backyard so what’s rooted beneath the soil can lay undisturbed, dormant in Missouri’s frozen tundra for the next 5 months.
Time is elusive for us gardeners
I feel the days grow shorter as hours keep ticking by, and I concede that, indeed, time is elusive. My brother helped me design a new garden bed in May. I told him the other day that it felt like just last week we were planning, mapping, seeding and planting the new garden. I asked him if it felt the same way to him. He said, “No.” To him, it felt exactly like the five months it has been.
I lived in the Costa Rican rainforest for three years, where it’s eternally and blissfully summer. There are two seasons: wet and dry. The jungle is green and lush with leaves and rich vegetation year round. That’s my hallmark of a gardener’s dream.
How I wish Missouri were a Zone 11 region, hot like tropical Central America. But if that were the case, then it wouldn’t be the Midwest, now would it? It would be the Florida Keys or Baja, California, or somewhere else altogether. And I do love St. Louis. I was born here and am rooted here. I would miss it if I went in search of Zone 11. I think.
If there were really such a thing as a genie in a bottle, would I squander a wish and ask for a 12-month growing cycle in St. Louis? Nah, probably not because ultimately this could never work. St. Louis is what it is. It has its own circadian rhythm, its natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle for humans, animals, and plants alike.
Still … knowing that time is elusive, I might actually wish for longer St. Louis summers after all. I’m torn. As I say this, I whisper a prayer of thanks that I, at least, don’t live in Montana, where my brother moved. The brother who helped me design the new garden bed in May. The growing cycle where he now lives is a mere 55 days. Wow! That’s not even two months. What can possibly grow in that length of time? Some lettuce I suppose. St. Louis has a whopping 209-day growing season by comparison. See, there is always something for which to be grateful.
Autumn sets in
And so October unfolds. And before we have time to blink an eye, this month will soon give a nod to November, and November will welcome December. With that awareness in mind, I’m saying goodbye to my garden blooms. That inevitable last day of growth will appear, as scheduled by nature, on October 29, give or take a few days.
Already the migratory birds have moved on, heading south into those glorious warm zones that never stop producing food for them. I’ve ceased looking for the tiny ruby throated hummingbirds at my feeders and listening for the sweet melodies of the bubbly and energetic house wrens. I hope they return next spring. There’s no guarantee, but I’ll increase the odds by luring them with dried mealy grubs and soft cotton fiber for their nests. Next fall maybe I’ll build an aviary.
The grass that grew ten feet tall every other day just last month no longer hides me when I fail to mow. In another few days I won’t need to shear the grass this year at all anymore. That happened fast.
Like I do at this time every year, I’m struggling to make peace with autumn for snatching up summer and paving the way for winter. I’ve decided to add a sunroom onto my house. This will make the houseplants happy. But most importantly, the glass-enclosed sunroom will trick my brain and give me the sense of being outdoors (my favorite place to be) while actually being indoors protected against harsh weather. Never mind the window washing. Next fall maybe I’ll move to Zone 11.
Most likely, however, I’ll just stay put and go on bargaining with nature in anticipation of spring.
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